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I know this is late, but I wanted to post one of my student’s Game Development Documentary. (I was delayed as I was getting permission to post and she was editing.) This was written on May 15, 2009 by a student without prompting or request. I felt compelled to share it and after you read it, I think you will understand why. Here it is:
Sixth Grade Game Development Documentary 1
Written About: Rountree Sixth Grade Students
Written By: Brianna
Our Rountree students have been developing an alternate reality game the last six weeks of school We are just beginning development, but will finish with great excitement and a positive attitude! This documentary will help all players that play our game and give them clues while playing the game. Our game does not have a name, but will with the process. Our game is about four main characters, two teens and two adults. Their names are Brooke Summers, Kyle, Damonte Ramirez, and another woman with no name yet. Let me explain our characters, Brooke is from New York, New York and is a very snooty person. She is fifteen and a half and also rich. She somehow knows stuff about the island. She gets mysterious text messages from her cell phone that barely works. Kyle on the other hand is a pilot who flew the plane to the island. He is also prone to accidents, so something will most likely happen to him the game. Damonte is a “G” from Compton, California and he is sixteen. He is known as a bad kid and always is stirring up trouble. The other adult woman is divorced and lost her close loved one. She is sort of quiet and out of the picture thou [sic], for now at least. The island is very weird. Every bad thing that happens on Manhattan Island happens on our island. For instance if there is a water plant in Manhattan then there’s a fresh water source on the island in that same exact spot on our island. We are now working on the plot of the game. We think it will go something like this: Every person is on the island for a reason and some how it will change your life. The island is out of balance and needs someone or something to put it back in balance. Our characters have to travel back in time and go to different desinations on the island to put in secret codes. To get a code, you have to answer a ratio and proportion question. You have to go to all the destinations, come back in time, and be able to somehow get off the island. This game is in our hands and with enough imagination we can make a game of all games. Our game is the first alternate reality game to be on the internet thru [sic] K-twelfth grade. Our imagination is bigger than undergraduates. (Not saying our game is better.) I can’t wait to journal you in again on what sixth grade is doing and how our game is coming. With the amazing help of the best math teacher in the world Julie McLeod, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR FUTURE GENERATION MATH!
I didn’t have the chance to blog last night about our progress, but we made some good developments. One thing we decided is that our plane crash on our crazy island will correlate with the plane crash in the Hudson River from back in January. We had some discussion about connecting it to the 9/11 attacks but that brings with it so many negative emotions and the Hudson River crash is really associated with positive feelings.
I also think we have found a good connection with Manhattan Island and the problems that occur there. One student found a really good graphic (below) that has helped us identify the major issues that Manhattan faces.
(You can see the graphic in context here.)
So, students in second block decided on four issues from Manhattan to make a connection to our crazy island and to ratios and proportions. The four Manhattan issues are:
1. Homeless/housing issues – When our characters crash on the island they are certainly homeless! The students are thinking about how they can make a connection to ratios and proportions. Thoughts are with ideas such as the ratio of materials needed to construct housing or the ratio of shelters per person, etc. I was really proud of the way that two of the students were working together yesterday. They each brainstormed ideas. Then they compared and contrasted their ideas using a Venn Diagram and made some decisions about what to keep and what to throw out. Here is a photo of them with some of their work (no faces for privacy reasons):
2. Health Issues/Swine Flu – This is probably the one that has been developed the most so far. One of our characters, likely Kyle the pilot, will become ill. The group is researching homeopathic remedies for the flu, which includes vinegar and garlic. They are thinking there will be a ratio of ingredients and then that the players will have to calculate the proportion of ingredients that Kyle will need for a certain number of days.
3. Rats/Rodents – The students are researching ways to naturally rid themselves of rats. They are looking into traps and natural predators.
4. Transportation – This one is still a puzzle to me but I know they will come up with something! I think they are looking at how to get around the island, but I’m not sure how it will all take shape.
We made good progress on our character development today. First block voted on the distribution on characters ages. You can see the results from my board above. Remember, last Friday it was a dead heat between a mix of adults and teens and only teens. So, we let first block chime in and vote today. Not too surprisingly, none of the kids in either block wanted the story to include adults only! The majority wanted a mix of adults and teens so the decision was made!
Remember at the end of the day Friday, the storyboard for characters looked like the photo on the left. There was one page of notes about the character’s background, personality, strengths, flaws, etc. After our decision to mix adults and teens, we went back to the work done on Friday to dig in deeper. Last week, the students had not created an adult character because we weren’t sure we would have one! So today, first block created two adult characters and then further developed the teen characters. Then each group selected a member to role play their character. We video taped their role play so we could introduce the character to the other blocks.
During second and third blocks, we watched the videos of the character introductions. Then, each student wrote a question for the character on a note card and put it on the storyboard. I’ll have first block go back and answer those questions. It will be a little like character interviews.
Look at the difference a day can make in our story board! We have four characters that are really starting to come to life! We’ll continue to develop the characters over time but I thought it was also a good idea to keep moving into the plot (which is covered in a separate post).
Character development is key to fiction stories. Why else would readers care what happens in the story if they don’t care about the character?!?! (Again this important writing information comes from the book The Write Genre.) So before we move into the plot, we’re working on character development. Third block began the work on Friday. They couldn’t decide if they wanted a mix of adults and teens or just a group of teens. So at this point, I had them begin by developing 3 teen characters. If we end up with some adults and have to combine two of the characters or something, it will not be that big of a deal.
On Friday, they broke into small groups and began developing a character by addressing the character’s personality, background, values, relationships, appearance, habits, tastes, strengths and flaws. We ran out of time, so on Monday first block will continue the work they began. First block will also decide if there will be adult main characters or just teens.
I think I will keep us moving along and hopefully get to the plot tomorrow by third block. Then, every few days, I’ll have groups do more character development. That way, everyone is getting to know the characters over time, like you might truly get to know your friends. Also, as the plot develops, it might really strengthen a certain aspect of a character’s personality. I hope this is good thinking! If you are experienced in group writing, please let me know if you disagree!!